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World Maritime Day: Marine shipping critical to North American trade


Great Lakes-St. Lawrence shipping is critical to the competitiveness and global trade success of Canada and the United States and presents an enormous opportunity for growth that will increase employment and prosperity while at same time benefitting our communities by reducing carbon emissions and transportation bottlenecks.

That’s the message the Chamber of Marine Commerce is sharing with government and policymakers today as the global maritime industry celebrates World Maritime Day.

“The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence system is an inland waterway resource of ships, ports and the people who operate them that is truly unique in the world. Decades of innovation, investment and commitment have created a marine highway that is the safest, and most environmentally-friendly way to connect cities in the economic epi-center of North America to each other and to global markets.” says Bruce Burrows, President of the Chamber of Marine Commerce. “Collectively, it is in everyone’s best interests to all be rowing the boat in the same direction to realize this waterway’s true potential.”

Notable government policy that can foster this growth includes:

  • Ensuring that the renegotiation of NAFTA does not include any additional tariffs or non-tariff barriers on Canadian-U.S. cross-border trade.
  • Putting in place protective, yet practical and harmonized ballast water regulations across the bi-national region;
  • Adding icebreaker capacity and other investments that optimize seasonal efficiency by extending the Seaway closing date another two weeks (in sync with the Soo Locks’ operating period); and ensuring U.S. funding proceeds for a second Poe-sized lock at the Soo Locks.
  • Modernizing pilotage services to increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve service delivery, while maintaining the high level of safety for which the system is known.

World Maritime Day is an official United Nations day. Every year, it provides an opportunity to focus attention on the importance of shipping and other maritime activities, and to highlight the significant contribution of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) (a United Nations regulatory body) and its Member States’ global efforts to improve the safety, security and efficiency of shipping and to protect the marine environment. 

This year’s IMO theme is: Connecting Ships, Ports and People, highlighting the importance of “joined-up” maritime development both from a policy and a practical perspective. 

Burrows adds: “Great Lakes-St. Lawrence shipping’s success depends on a system-wide approach to policy-making and commercial development from both government and industry. The CMC represents all aspects of the maritime supply chain, including its customers, and we are working with our members and other stakeholders to advocate for one effective, unified vision for sustainable growth.”

Did You Know? Bi-national Great Lakes-St. Lawrence shipping:

  • Supports 227,000 Canadian and U.S. well-paying jobs.
  • Generates $35 billion in revenues and nearly $14 billion in employment wages.
  • Pays $5 billion in federal and provincial/state taxes per year.
  • Delivers more than 80 percent of the iron ore used in the U.S. steel industry
  • Helps lower the cost of materials to build North American highways and cities; keep roadways safe in the winter; and generate heat and electricity for homes.
  • Connects farmers and manufacturers to domestic and 60+ international export markets.
  • Keeps the public safe. Between 2002-2011, vessel collisions in the bi-national Great Lakes-Seaway navigation system resulted in zero fatalities and injuries to members of the public. (Source: Analysis of data from the U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian Transportation Safety Board)
  • Has the lowest carbon footprint. Rail and truck would respectively emit 19 percent and 533 percent more greenhouse gas emissions per cargo-ton-mile if these modes carried the same cargo the same distance as the Great Lakes-Seaway fleet. (Source: Research and Traffic Group, 2013)
  • Reduces road congestion. One ship (depending on size) carries the same amount of cargo as between 963 and 2,340 trucks.
  • New ship designs and engine technology introduced over the next 10 years to meet regulatory changes will reduce air emissions like Nitrogen Oxides by 86% and Sulfur Oxides by 99%.


Download Great Lakes-St. Lawrence photos at:


About the Chamber of Marine Commerce

The Chamber of Marine Commerce is a bi-national association that represents more than 130 marine industry stakeholders including major Canadian and American shippers, ports, terminals and marine service providers, as well as domestic and international ship owners. The Chamber has merged with the Canadian Shipowners Association, combining resources to advocate for an efficient regulatory climate that promotes a strong and competitive marine industry for the benefit of all industry stakeholders throughout the bi-national Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region and along the eastern seaboard and northern coasts.  Based in Ottawa, Canada, the merged entity will continue to be called the Chamber of Marine Commerce.


Media Contact

Julia Fields

Chamber of Marine Commerce

(613) 294-8515

About the Chamber of Marine Commerce

The Chamber of Marine Commerce (CMC) is a bi-national association that represents diverse marine industry stakeholders including major Canadian and American shippers, ports, terminals and marine service providers, as well as Canadian domestic and international ship owners. The Chamber advocates for safe, sustainable, harmonized and competitive policy and regulation that recognizes the marine transportation system's significant advantages in the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence, Coastal and Arctic regions.

Media Contact:
Jason Card
Chamber of Marine Commerce
(613) 447 5401